“The [Marina and Dining] concessions will be ready for business commencing the first full week of May and will operate until the end of October”
– From the winning Manhattan River Group bid to operate the Dyckman Marina concession, describing the proposed seasonal nature of the operations.
The party just won’t stop.
The Dyckman Marina concession La Marina just announced it is launching its new winter lounge/nightclub, with a “Grand Opening” on September 28th at 8:00pm.
The winning bid for the Dyckman Marina concession, and the License Agreement that followed it, however clearly stated that the restaurant would only be open seasonally, from May to October: In fact, the exact language in the License Agreement states:
The Licensed Premises shall be opened, operated and staffed by Licensee seven days a week during the period commencing on or around May 1 and concluding on or around October 31 of each calendar year…
How did this happen? First, some history on seasonal operations. After the first summer of operations in 2012, Hurricane Sandy flooded the site in late October, but it reopened before then closing again for repairs. The concession reopened in April 2013.
These dates did not exactly match the dates in the License Agreement, so questions were asked of Parks officials as to when exactly the season started and ended. Without notice to anyone, a Parks Department spokesperson told the New York Times that, surprise, the concession was now year-round! Stated the June 18, 2013 article:
“La Marina is supposed to be open only seasonally, but the parks department has amended its license, allowing it to operate year-round. Similarly, it can now stay open until 1 a.m. seven days a week; originally it was to close at 12:30 a.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and at 11 p.m. Sundays through Wednesdays.”
This change was never explained by the Parks Department and does not exist in writing.
The License Agreement does allow for some minor adjustment:
In regulating the hours of operation, the Commissioner may consider the hours of operation of other similar Parks facilities, the nature of the community and the environs of the concession, Parks Rules and Regulations of operations, the public health and safety, and other similar considerations.
But given that all of the above factors would argue against extending the hours and season based on the content of this website, the Commissioner should perhaps be a little more accountable on this point.
The extension to year-round operations notwithstanding, in fall 2013 the restaurant stayed open through November (but only as a resaturant), and hosted a few Christmas parties before again shutting down until late April. While this was no doubt a business decision, the slowdowns and shutdowns granted an annual reprieve to the Inwood community of the summertime excesses (conveniently at the exact time that community board meetings resumed and elections were held).
Under this routine, fall at La Marina became a wonderful time to visit, a time of maximum public access to this parkland property (or at least to the restaurant portion; the beach and VIP patios remained roped off). Without the nightclub and concert venues operating, one could almost glimpse the long-discarded vision of the RFP. A visitor could stroll in without a bag check or ID scan, dine in a lovely, quiet restaurant environment, and sit at the water’s edge without having to buy a $1,200 bottle of liquor. While enjoying a glass of wine as the boats passed by the not-quite-full dining room, one could almost forget about the problems described elsewhere on these pages.
But now, as of September 28, that brief period of calm may be destined to end. It seems that the success of the summertime nightclub business is simply too good to pass up. And so, a Grand Opening for the new season of “La Marina Lounge” (as opposed to the summertime branding of “La Marina Beach”), which will feature DJ’s on Sunday nights, “all winter“.
Tweet from 8 pm on 9-28-14
Time will tell how much noise will result, how many patrons will exit at midnight to continue the party farther down Dyckman Street, how much the illegal valet parking will block traffic, if any further violence will result from this new winter DJ season — all on a school night. In a news article, a spokesman for the facility wrote to the reporter that:
“The flyer that has stirred up this concern was neither produced nor authorized by La Marina and does not reflect our intended programming,” the email said. “La Marina has no plans to operate a nightclub.”
Given the facility’s track record, the veracity of the above statement may be questionable.
Oddly, the poster announcing the winter opening includes the language “Everyone Free to Access Venue All Night“. Is this simply an awkwardly-worded “no cover charge” promotional message? Or some sort of way of responding to the violations surrounding public access by terming this some sort of improved access to city parkland? (Presuming one is over-21 and likes to visit city parks at 1 am on a Sunday, that is.)
The summertime nightclub and concert uses are unacceptable and the non-enforcement of the Parks Department over three summers has been inexcusable. Extending these problem uses year round, even at a reduced scale, is nothing short of outrageous. If a year-round concession is desired, restore the original intent as simply a restaurant and marina and the extension will become an asset to Inwood instead of yet another inequitable burden.
UPDATE – The plan for public winter operations has changed. As of November 2014 the facility has once again closed to the public until April. It remains open for private events through the winter, see below examples.